McGrady Is Fan Favorite For Lakers' Spot; Brown is Likely Final Choice

CyberCosmiXCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2010

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 15:  Tracy McGrady #1  of the Orlando Magic drives past Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at Staples Center on March 15, 2004 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 113-110.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The Lakers are getting close to making what is most likely their final signing of the off-season. What looked like an almost done deal several days ago to bring back guard Shannon Brown now looks like it has hit a snag. Negotiations have currently stalled with GM Mitch Kupchak unwilling to meet Brown's full asking price. He may be looking elsewhere.

It is quite likely that Kupchak feels the explosive Brown has underachieved in his time with the Lakers. Brown seems to still have trouble making decisions within Phil Jackson's triangle offense and his jump shooting has been spotty at times. If Brown's price is too high for the Lakers, who would be their most likely final free-agent signing?

6'7'' swingman free agent Matt Barnes had told his twitter followers Friday that he'd be informing them what 'surprise' team he was going to play with on Saturday , only to announce that he is postponing that decision for a few more days as several other teams had gotten involved in trying to sign him .

Barnes, a Los Angeles native, has also told friends that he would like to play for the Lakers. There have been several teams linked to Barnes including the Lakers, Heat, Magic and Celtics. The timing of Barnes postponing his decision corresponds to the time that the Lakers negotiations with Brown started dragging on. There is speculation that the Lakers could be one of the teams that Barnes referred to getting back in the negotiating mix, although it has been reported that the Cavaliers were in talks to sign Barnes.

Another intriguing free agent possibility that has kept creeping back into the conversation is 31 year old guard/forward Tracy McGrady. McGrady has drawn very little interest in free agency, much like fellow veteran players Allen Iverson and Shaquille O'Neal. Like those players, attitude has played most of the part keeping teams away, but at age 31 he is still young enough to contribute if healthy.

His career has been marred by several fallouts during his time with the Rockets, but it was injuries that have ultimately kept him off the court. He's played 65 games the past two seasons. He has battled one injury after another for the past 5 seasons.

The Lakers as a destination for McGrady have been only speculation as no official word has come from either T-Mac's or Laker management about them considering him. Fans, though, have spoken their minds on wanting Tracy McGrady wearing purple and gold next season, getting 55% of the vote in one poll , and 43% in another with over 2500 votes cast.

If the Lakers look to add front court depth, one name that could come off the board soon is Shaq. He is rumored to be going to the Hawks in a sign-and-trade deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Another former Lakers center who probably is off Kupchak's radar is Kwame Brown, who is coming off of one of his worst seasons.

Bringing back fan favorite DJ Mbenga is a possible choice, but feelings are that the Lakers are looking elsewhere or he would have already been re-signed.

Summer league standout guards D.J. Strawberry and Gerald Green remain long shots. Both showed flashes of brilliance and most likely both of them will end up somewhere in the NBA, but almost certainly not with the Lakers.

Which leads us full-circle back to Shannon Brown. Chicago just signed guard Ronnie Brewer to a 3-year deal, passing on Brown. He has drawn little interest in the open market, and may have no other option than to take what the Lakers offer to him. That is probably what is causing the delay, I'm sure that Kupchak would like to finalize his roster sooner than later.

So as much as Laker fans have spoken out in their interest in Tracy McGrady, it is probably Shannon Brown getting the contract. It's possible that Matt Barnes is thinking on his decision if the Lakers did indeed reach out to him (if they did). If so Brown may want to quickly take the Lakers offer or risk the same thing that happened to Trevor Ariza happening to him.